Sunday, 30 May 2010

Quince cake

Before making this cake I had two experiences of quince: firstly, as something the Owl and the Pussycat ate by the light of the moon (with runcible spoons, what else?) and, secondly, as that sticky paste/thick jam you get served on a cheeseboard.

I hadn’t planned to bake with quince but when browsing the stalls in
Borough Market I spotted the lovely big round yellow fruits – looking very much like pregnant apples – and bought them on the spur of the moment, worrying about finding a recipe afterwards.

My next step was to look online for quince cake recipes.
There weren’t that many in truth. Lots of recipes for paste, few for cake. As with everything in life, Amazon showed me the way – would you believe it sells a cookbook devoted to quince? Silly as it sounds (and trust me, I know it sounds silly) I felt like I had to do right by my beautiful quince so ordered the book. This method of cooking the quince comes from it...I’ve teamed it with a buttery, sweet pound cake-esque recipe.

If I had to sum up quince I’d say:


gorgeous aroma, like tropical apples

beautiful colour when cooked

lovely delicate flavour and texture

good score in a game of Scrabble


difficult to peel and cut keeping all fingers intact. It is a brute to cut – hard and dense in texture

needs a bit of love and care – in this recipe you have to poach the quince for 2.5 hours before you can even start making the cake

Here are the quince just about to start their 2 ½ poaching marathon:

Here they are at the end of the poaching time; their colour and aroma was just divine!

The texture was akin to pear, but the taste was tropical apple.
We were all big fans. Quince and me may only just have met but I see this as the start of a beautiful friendship....if friendship is the right word where one of the ‘friends’ is always eaten by the other!


For the quince:

500ml water
150g caster sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick – about 6cm long
3 medium quince – peeled, cored and cut into wedges (about 12 wedges per quince)

For the cake:
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
350g caster sugar (this isn’t a typo!!!)
4 eggs
280g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150ml double cream
2 tablespoons of the poaching syrup you cooked the quince in.


Start by preparing the quince – this can be done up to 3 days ahead of making the cake.

Place all the ingredients into a large pan and bring to a simmer over a low heat.

Cover the pan and simmer for 2-2 ½ hours or until the quince turns a deep red colour.
Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick.

Cool to room temperature and then chill until cold.
Cover and chill until needed – the quince will keep for up to 3 days.

Now make the cake: Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.

Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Don’t skimp on this stage as this is when you get lots of lovely air into your sponge.
While the butter and sugar is creaming, drain the chilled fruit through a sieve (retain the poaching syrup) and pat dry with paper towels.
Beat in the eggs one at a time (to the butter and sugar) and beat to ensure they are well incorporated.
Add half of the flour along with the baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla.
Add half of the cream and beat until combined.

Beat in the remaining flour, followed by the remaining cream and the 2 tablespoons of poaching syrup.

Fold the quince into the batter and spoon into the prepared cake tin – I retained some of the prettier slices to place on top of the batter; I also cut some of the bigger chunks through as I didn’t want them to sink in the cake.

Bake for approximately 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Mine took nearer 1 ½ hours. If the top starts to brown too much, cover loosely with foil.
Leave to cool on a wire rack until the tin is cool enough to handle, then turn the cake out and leave to cool completely.

Serve with a cup of tea – nothing else is needed!

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.



C said...

Your quince looks lovely, especially after poaching, and the cake looks like it's a great complement to the juicy chunks of quince. I like the sound of the texture and flavour combo, will have to keep my eyes open for any quince around this way.

The comment about a high Scrabble score made me laugh - I'm rubbish at Scrabble, but that's just the sort of word my brother would have got onto triple word score....

Helen said...

My mother has a quince tree in the garden that has produced huge quantities in the past and has no slowed down to almost nothing.

When I leave London I will select a house on what fruit trees there are!

Suelle said...

I'm surprised you found quince at this time of year - how lucky for you. I haven't seen any for sale for the last couple of years. The cake looks lovely! One other good way to use them is to add a proportion to an apple pie.

Brownieville Girl said...

I have been on the lookout for quince for years.

Your cake looks fantastic, wish I could taste it!

trash said...

I had quinces when I was at home last month.Beautifully poached, deliciously tasty quinces. Mmmmmmmm.

Joy said...

O what a lovely cake! I love quince! Especially when it gets to that dark claretty colour!

Cakelaw said...

This looks fabulous!! I have never baked anything with quince before.

Baking Addict said...

Thanks for the introduction to quince. I've never tried it or baked with it. Looks delicious.

Lucie said...

This looks a wonderful dense and moist cake - yum!

Beth (Jam and Clotted Cream) said...

Have never baked with quince. Cake looks lovely and moist

Katie said...

This looks wonderful. I have never eaten quince in a cake before, only as jam. Love how you describe it as a pregnant apple - I see just what you mean :)

Choclette said...

These cake looks gorgeous. I love the look and smell of cooked quinces. I tried once to poach quinces for cooking and it was such a faff, I vowed I wouldn't do it again. But I have made quince jelly which is beautiful, tasty and relatively painless.

Sue said...

Someone just sent me a link to this post. I'm bookmarking it to try in the autumn when my quinces ripen, looks yummy.I quite agree that they are hard work to prepare-but so worthwhile. I wonder where your quinces had come from in May?